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Our not so photographic spring

Earlier this spring, I wrote about how I was going on slow recovery walks to catch up on all the fresh air I had missed out on in self-isolation. After a week of solo walks, the duck was excited to tag along and even insisted I bring our camera friend for our “obligatory spring photo post” of 2022. So, I did. And, since it’s technically still spring, I decided to finally share the three photos I consider the least terrible:

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Snacks: Spring in chocolate shape?

The duck and I love the saying that “good things come in threes.” We also love chocolate. So, as soon as we espied a new Ritter Sport chocolate variety called Konnichiwa at the grocery store, we knew this meant the third chocolate-based subjective snack review of the year. The pink wrapper features images of a maneki-neko (a beckoning cat figurine said to bring good luck to its owner, often found placed at the entrance of Japanese businesses) and cherry blossoms, together with cherries and almonds, the primary flavors of this chocolate bar. Konnichiwa chocolate duckThe duck and I felt like Ritter Sport knew how much we miss Japan‘s seasonal snacks, especially the spring-themed ones (even those that advertise sakura but are basically cherry-flavored), and created this variety exclusively for us. After some research, we learned that Konnichiwa is part of a trio of new location-based chocolate bars. Buenos días seems to be the white mango passion fruit chocolate we reviewed in our vacation Ritter Sport review two years ago (we should get a full-size bar sometime if only to find out whether the new name will make it even tastier). Hey there features salted caramel crisps, something the duck and I have slowly learned to look out for before buying any new chocolate. The blurb on the Ritter Sport product site for Konnichiwa confirmed what we had expected going by the design of the packaging: This chocolate bar is based on the beauty and transience of the Japanese cherry blossom, probably the most prominent symbol (and our favorite photography subject) of Japanese spring! Even though we were a bit skeptical about the fruitiness of it all, we couldn’t wait to subjectively review this chocolaty German Japanese spring-themed snack:

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Goodbye spring

Spring is officially over, and the duck and I miss it already. It’s true that we don’t have to fight the evil pollen anymore and that we’re a lot more awake (well, strictly speaking, that would be the result of no longer having to rely on allergy tablets). But it’s also true that we’ll miss seeing nature wake up and going on weird photo walks during the golden hour. Now it’s time to graduate from sakura-flavored drinks to something more summery and focus on fighting spiders full-time. But first, a proper farewell is in order: Goodbye springYes, the duck and I did indeed spend hours on creating this cheesy goodbye-to-spring image to show our appreciation for the season (that we always remember more fondly when we don’t have to drop allergy pills anymore and have slightly less trouble getting up in the morning). We did so using one of the photos we didn’t include in our spring walk post and some inspiration we got from watching the opening of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries one too many times.
I’m still unsure which side of the line between ‘corny but funny’ and ‘corny and an insult to my eyes’ this lands on; I waver every time I look at it. The duck, being one of the subjects of this digital collage(?), is too biased to give me a reliable assessment. Oh well…

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Obligatory annual spring photo post

It seems to have become a tradition for the duck and me to celebrate the beginning of spring by taking a few photos of nature waking up from hibernation and then sharing them on here- weeks later. Why break such a fun tradition? Therefore we present to you today: The beginning of spring – 2021 edition!

Same as last year, we tried to keep our distance from other people. This time we did it by looking extra weird during our attempts to position the camera at the perfect range and angle for a decent shot and thus getting into the funniest shapes. Photography yoga might be our new favorite kind of yoga!
What about you? Do you like to do accidental outside yoga? Were you as excited as we were about the beginning of spring (maybe so much so that you forgot that spring also means allergy season)?
I wonder what this year’s summer will be like.

A steady chocolate float ride…

This is the second time I repeat the terribly cheesy sentence that I used way back to describe my experience trying sakura flavored matcha KitKat for the first time. See, others would be ashamed of their corny attempts at fauxetry in describing the simple act of biting a chunk off a chocolate bar. Not us! The duck and I own up to all the weirdness we produce. In fact, we own up to it so much that we decided to adorn one of our leftover candle holders with exactly that: ‘a steady chocolate float ride through a peaceful matcha stream in the middle of (the week-long) cherry blossom season’, in a new installation of our bedroom beautification broject. spring candle duckThe duck couldn’t wait for our art project to start. And, to be honest, I couldn’t, either. Being stuck inside and not being able to observe the change of seasons the way we excitedly did in Japan, the duck and I are trying to do what we can to remind ourselves of what the outside world is like (literally! As you can see by the chosen candle holder decoration theme):

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Two springs past: A haiku

The duck and I have written about our love-hate relationship with spring about a hundred times. Now that we are asked to stay inside we feel our love grow stronger every day, probably because social distancing also includes distancing ourselves from some of the pollen that aggressively swarm around the neighborhood wondering where their former victims have gone… while the duck and I sit at our computer reminiscing about all the sakura we got to see in Tokyo two years ago, when the world was still a little bit less crazy and our main worry was having to interrupt our excursions from time to time to treat our stinging eyes with yet the coolest (literally!) eye drops we’ve ever used. Looking through our collection of photos from a happier spring makes the duck and me feel somewhat nostalgic and weirdly poetic. Today we have finally decided to give in to that poetic itch, took a photo from our  pollen plagued hike up Mount Takao two years ago (here’s a link to that post and video) and let it inspire us to write yet another haiku within a cheesy inspirational quote format like we did last December.
Now let me share with you the duck and my newest piece of fauxetry:

Sparkling pink mountain, scents of blossoms fill the air, and a sudden sneeze.

With this one we tried to add an air of acceptance to those pesky allergies that come with the beauty of spring. I hope that comes across. If not, now you know our intentions, hahaha!
Do you have a favorite season? Please tell us about it (wow, this looks like an elementary school essay prompt. But I’m going with it).

In other news:

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Twilight Walk

During these chaotic times the lazy people among us who like to spend lots of time inside, especially now that the dreaded allergy season has arrived once again, can finally feel like they have been preparing for this all along. The duck and I sure do. However, now that we know that we actually should not go outside too much we suddenly crave feeling actual sunlight that is not filtered through our bedroom window on our faces. First, let me outline the current legal situation in Berlin: social distancing is encouraged, restaurants and non-essential stores are closed, as are places that encourage close contact, like playgrounds and gyms. Going for walks is permitted, though, if you keep an adequate distance to others. In the past few weeks the duck and I left the house exclusively to (try to) get some groceries. Last week, however, there was a moment when we knew that we needed some fresh air if we wanted to keep our sanity. There is a little park-like area near our home that we supposed wouldn’t be too crowded in the evening. And we were right – we only crossed paths with a handful of people and most everyone was seriously trying to keep their distance.
Because we love the hours in which the warm afternoon sunlight explodes into numerous pretty colors, the duck and I just had to take our camera. And, because the park was so empty, we decided that it would be safe to stop from time to time to take a few snaps when no-one was around.
Here is a selection of some of those photos that made us remember that, even in a crisis, the world keeps on moving, the sun rises and sets… and the evil pollen will soon try to rule over us once again!Berlin end of winter walk 6This, I think, is our favorite photo from this long overdue walk. We took it at around the midpoint of our route when we thought the light was the prettiest. The duck and I loved how, throughout our little walk, we could actually see how time progressed. We hope that this also shows in our photographs: Continue reading

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Allergies

A while ago, when it was still sunny on a fairly regular basis, the duck and I had the glorious idea to combine one of our beloved afternoon-grocery shops with a quick photo session of the neighborhood. So, we took our jute shopping bags, grabbed our trusty camera friend and got excited to go on yet another adventure- until we stepped outside. Right then and there were we reminded of our love/hate relationship with spring – the season with the prettiest flowers and the ugliest allergies! We had a vivid flashback of the day we climbed Mt. Takao in spring where we were forced to decide between putting on a flu mask to protect ourselves from the evil pollen and taking it off to actually be able to breathe on this exhausting climb. The duck and I are lucky enough to have confirmed allergies to three different kinds of trees that blossom more or less consecutively. That means three full months of allergy madness (let’s not get into the surprise allergies here)!

allergy duck

This year, after having confirmed that, in fact, the pollen were even more aggressive than the ones we had met in Japan, the duck and I decided to invest in an allergy survival kit, consisting of a 100-pack of allergy tablets to prepare our bodies for the impending pollen attacks, enough coffee to combat the extra-sleepiness resulting from the pills, a pretty little bottle of allergy eye drops for a more precise treatment of some of the symptoms (we do miss the ones we had gotten in Japan, though – they had actual cooling powers!), tissues, obviously, and, more as a fond memory than an actual aid, some flu masks that, of course, we would never go outside with – not outside Japan! However, despite our survival kit, we are suffering (very dramatically) every. single. day. It’s a good thing we have those photos to remind us of how pretty spring is in our neighborhood (because there’s no way we’re going outside to see it live if we don’t have to): Continue reading

Snacks: All the Matcha we could Alfort

Guess what- it’s still spring, or, as we call it, matcha flavor season! And since there are still so many spring flavored snacks to be found in the grocery stores (though fruity summer flavors are slowly taking over the shelves), Alfort duckthe duck and I just had to try two more green tea-y varieties – this time in the shape of those nice chocolaty Alfort biscuits!
At first, the bigger variety with a light biscuit and bright green chocolate caught our eye. Then, just a short while later, we discovered the darker mini matcha variety and we knew that we needed to try those as well – it was love at first sight after all!
In our first spring cookie test, the duck and I fell in love with the chewy matcha flavored cookies by the same manufacturer (I guess that makes us polyamorous). So, this time, our expectations were rather high, especially because we love the regular individually wrapped milk chocolate Alfort biscuits and the small snack-size dark ones! Anyway, I’m rambling too much. Let’s try to keep this super professional snack review rather concise for real this time:

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Very late spring

After having missed the peak of the cherry blossoms in Tokyo, the duck and I just had to attempt catching them a bit further up north. So, just before Golden Week (an accumulation of public holidays making this week in late April/early May a popular travel season), we went on a little trip to Akita’s lake Tazawa and Kakunodate, planned by our lovely Kyoto travel pal!
So, here is a selection of the photos that I took while walking around the lake that turned out to be much larger than we had expected:

Lake Tazawa 1

Lake Tazawa has such a beautiful color!

Lake Tazawa 2

No matter what side of the lake you’re on – there’s so much to see (and, trust me, the duck and I have seen the lake from almost all angles there are)!

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